The price of coca
Living downstairs from a neighborhood drug dealer can disrupt your home life. They are the biggest partiers, the loudest drama queens, their "friends" are always ringing the front door bell to get in, and they never stay more than a few minutes. The constant human traffic often brings with it, lives and voices of loud desperation. You almost wish those guys would overdose and die, so someone quiet could move in.
What is happening in Bolivia is drug dysfunction drama on a national level, a vicious circle of dependence and half-hearted attempts at rehabilitation. In 1986, Bolivia was the world's largest supplier of coca, the raw ingredient in cocaine. Bolivia also had the worst inflation. Today, Bolivia is one of the poorest ountries in South America. Columbia and Peru are the big coca producers now. This situation is the result of the United States'$1.3 billion dollar program to destroy coca plantations over the last six years.
in 2003, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez De la Lozada considered a proposal to allow limited coca cultivation in the Chapare region. This radical proposal, which would allow each grower to plant one-fifth of an acre of coca, was menat to appease the coca growers, who comprise the nation's strongest political group. Coca growers organized under Evo Morales, the current President's political rival. They have staged frequent blockades along the main highway during the worst economic crisis in the country's history. Government officials defend the program, saying it will impede drug traffickers by giving the government more control over what is now a covert industry in the lowlands.
U.S. officials oppose the proposal and threaten to impose formal economic sanctions; "Any proposal that would legitimize or legalize any coca in the Chapare, which is illegal, would be a violation...